In much of the developing world, milking goats is the primary milk source for humans. Goat milk is often sought for its perceived health benefits and unique taste.
A number of health effects have been attributed to consuming goat milk. Goat milk is similar in composition to cow milk, but some important differences exist in the protein structure.
Goat milk can provide an alternative for people who suffer with cow milk allergies and gastro-intestinal disorders.
Feed Requirements For Milking Goats
When milking goats in South Africa, good quality food and water are essential for good milk production. Additionally, when determining feed rations, energy and protein are the most important elements to consider. Lack of energy is the most common problem affecting production and protein is essential for growth, pregnancy, and milk production. Feed analysis can be a valuable tool in determining what nutrients your feed may lack.
Fresh pasture is a great source of minerals, energy, and protein and is a low-cost source of feed. Furthermore, rotational grazing can maximize the supply of pasture and minimize the need for supplementary feeding when pasture is in short supply.
Best Goat Breeds for Milk Production
Below, we have detailed 6 of the best milking goats for production but remember that the amount of milk is not the only important factor. Ensure that you can offer comfortable living conditions and that you choose a breed suitable for living in your climate.
You may also want to consider the characteristics and temperament of the goat, especially if they will be mixing with other breeds, other animals, and people.
The Saanen is the most productive milk goat of Switzerland, which has the most productive milking goats in the world. Average milk yield is 838kg in a lactation of 264 days. The milk has a minimum of 3.2% fat and 2.7% protein.
The Nigerian Dwarf is small but well-proportioned; its conformation resembles that of larger dairy goats. It may be horned or naturally hornless. The coat is fine and fairly short, and may be of any color, or multicolored
The British Alpine goat is a breed of domestic goat developed in the early 1900s. A standard British Alpine goat is black all over with white ‘Swiss’ markings. The British Alpine is a high producer of quality goats’ milk.
The Anglo-Nubian is a large goat, characterised by long legs, a markedly convex facial profile, and long pendulous lop ears. The head is carried high; it may either be polled or have small downward-curved horns.
Year-Round Supply of Roughage and Grain
Milking goats in South Africa need a year-round supply of roughage, such as pasture, browse, or well-cured hay. Winter browse and pastures should be supplemented with hay. Milking, breeding and growing stock need a daily portion of legume hay, such as alfalfa.
Kids and bucks need a balanced grain ration and milkers should be fed a standard dairy grain ration. Kids are milk fed until two to three months of age but should be consuming forages such as pasture grass or hay by two weeks of age and grain within four. All dairy goats must have salt and fresh clean water. Mineral supplements are desirable.
Milking goats in Cape Town have fastidious eating habits and are particular about the cleanliness of their food. Their natural curiosity may lead them to investigate newly found items by sniffing and nibbling, but they quickly refuse anything that is dirty or distasteful.
Housing For Milking Goats
An enclosed barn with removable side panels or windows is recommended housing for dairy goats, with 1.8m2 of enclosed housing area per goat. Livestock shelters were formerly built to protect animals from the extremes of heat and cold, but now the environment needed by the animal for top performance is also recognized.
A simple, three-sided shelter with an open front will meet the needs of many farm animals and is often the building of choice to raise healthy livestock. Goats will be comfortable in the cold if they have clean, dry bedding. A thick dry bed provides insulation from the cold ground and decreases the amount of energy the animal has to expend to keep warm.
Milking Goat Management
Keep the milk supply flowing by breeding your does once a year, starting when they are 8 months old. Does remain in heat for three days, usually on a 17- to 21-day cycle. Put your does and buck together at this time.
Once bred, the buck should be separated from the does to ensure fresh-tasting milk. Kidding (giving birth) will occur about 145 to 150 days after breeding. Does usually have twins — sometimes triplets, depending on the breed.
The doe will “freshen” and give milk after the kids are born. If kept milked, she will continue producing for up to 10 months. Allow her a dry period of about two months before she delivers new kids and begins producing milk again.
During the milking period, you and the kids can share the milk; the doe should provide plenty. The best plan is to confine them overnight and milk the doe in the morning. After her morning milking, leave the kids with the doe to nurse at will. Some people milk the does twice a day and give the kids bottles, which is labor-intensive but helps accustom kids to human handling.